Nuku’alofa, 21 February : The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and its development partners will be hosting the Pacific Leaders Energy Summit, PLES, in Nuku’alofa on March 21st and 22nd , 2013.
The topic of energy has become one of global importance. With increasing concern for the effects of climate change on the environment, and decreasing hydrocarbon resources, developed countries are facing the task of migrating existing energy infrastructure and systems to renewable sources and processes.
For the developing nations, the challenge is to adopt cleaner and more sustainable energy systems right from the start. But for many of our neighbours in the Pacific, the challenge is much more than a consideration of which energy option to take. It is much more critical than that. For at stake is the very question of survival and continuation of peoples, and their existence as sovereign entities and viable communities on their own homelands and territories.
And so the Pacific region presents the global community with what appears to be a spectrum of extremes, played out against the backdrop of a prolonged worldwide economic recession, and the steady rising tide, encroaching on our receding coastlines and diminishing lands. It is thus with heightened sense of urgency that Pacific Islands are compelled to search for models of energy development that are consistent with the needs of the individual countries as well as that of the region.
The Pacific Leaders Energy Summit is a timely intervention amidst the chatter and crosstalk of the energy market place, and will help to bring clarity and focus as we search for models and blueprints to guide us on the way forward. Although there have been many successful models in the Pacific Islands, there have also been models that did not work out for various reasons, resulting in a lack of progress in the development in the energy sector in some of our countries. The Pacific Leaders Energy Summit will allow Tonga to share its model known as the Tonga Energy Road Map 2010-2020 (TERM) from the perspective of the Government as well as from the perspective of the Development Partners working on the TERM.
The energy road map paradigm, as adopted in the Tongan context, TERM, is an effective prism with which to conceive a pathway towards energy independence and sustainability. At the international level, the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, has launched REMAP2030, IRENA’s Global Renewable Energy Road Map project which “explores different pathways and action items required to achieve the aspirational target of doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix as defined under the UN Secretary-General Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative”. It is not impossible that such a global road map will be made up of national and regional tapestries, woven with the assistance and active participation of the leaders and peoples of the Pacific.
The Pacific Leaders Energy Summit is not an isolated event, but it is one that is contributory to, and in alignment with, the United Nation’s declaration of 2014-2024 as the “Decade of Sustainable Energy for All”. The declaration was adopted unanimously in 2012 by the UN’s 193 member states, which includes the Pacific Islands States, in a world commitment to achieve sustainable energy for all its citizens. The link between energy and economic development points to the potential for leveraging progress in the energy sector to address the social problems that we all face in our island region.
The second day of the Summit will focus on Regionalism and how best the Pacific Islands can work with the Development Partners involved in energy. Delegations are encouraged to discuss problems and share success stories. Pacific Leaders will also be able to discuss (in a closed session) at a high level, possible regional initiatives that can be further developed through the CROP agencies.